Four Journalists Arrested In Burundi For Undermining National Security

AFP photo


Four journalists and their driver are still being held in Burundi after being arrested for undermining national security while covering a rebel attack from neighbouring DR Congo, the attorney general said.

The Burundian reporters were detained on Tuesday last week while reporting in Bubanza, in the country’s northwest, prompting calls from free press groups for their immediate release.

The journalists, from the Iwacu newspaper, one of the last independent publications in Burundi, were detained along with their driver while trying to speak to residents fleeing fighting between rebels and national forces.

“The attorney general of the Republic wants to reaffirm here that these people were not arrested because they are journalists but for the things they are accused of,” Sylvestre Nyandwi said in a statement released late Thursday.

He said they were “apprehended on a hill where clashes were taking place and facts at the disposition of the prosecutors indicate that they could have had this information beforehand,” he said.

He said the court in Bubanza had “decided on the preventive detention” of the five for “undermining national security”.

At least 14 Burundian rebels were killed in the attack, the first by the RED-Tabara group since 2017, according to Burundian police.

The rebels meanwhile claim killing about 10 defence personnel.

Burundi has been locked in crisis since President Pierre Nkurunziza in April 2015 announced he would seek a controversial third term in office, sparking civil unrest that has left 1,200 dead and over 400,000 displaced.

The next presidential election is scheduled to be held in 2020.

The international media rights group RSF recently warned that there was such a crackdown on the press in Burundi that “there is a risk of all forms of independent journalism disappearing” less than a year before the election.

Burundi is currently ranked 159th out of 180 countries on the RSF’s world press freedom index.


National Security: Senate Asks IGP To Appear Before It On Tuesday

National Security: Senate Asks IGP To Appear Before It On Tuesday
A file photo of acting IGP, Mr Mohammed Adamu.


The Senate has asked the acting Inspector General of Police, Mr Mohammed Adamu, to appear before it on Tuesday, May 7, 2019.

The Senate President, Dr Bukola Saraki, announced this during plenary on Tuesday.

Senator Saraki made the announcement after Senator Ubali Shitu (Jigawa North-East) moved for the approval of votes and proceedings.

READ ALSOSenators Condemn Killing Of Briton, Demand Inter-Agency Task Force To Tackle Banditry

The lawmakers had resolved to invite the police boss to brief the Senate on the measures put in place to address the current security situation in the country.

They made the resolution on Thursday last week when they condemned the attack on Kajuru Castle Resort in Kaduna State, where gunmen killed a Nigerian and a British national.

The assailants had also abducted three other persons in the process.

Senator Shehu Sani, who raised a motion on the attack last week, also called the attention of the lawmakers to the abduction of Chairman of the Universal Basic Education Commission (UBEC), Dr Muhammed Mahmood, during Tuesday’s plenary.

According to him, suspected bandits blocked the Kaduna-Abuja Expressway on Monday and kidnapped the UBEC boss and several others.

“He (Mahmood) was kidnapped with his daughter and his brother was killed immediately,” Senator Sani told his colleagues.

He added, “Kidnapping along Abuja-Kaduna expressway is something we talk about every day, yet the road is still as dangerous as it has always been. That route has become one of the most dangerous and tragic routes in Nigeria.”

In his remarks, the Senate President commended Senator Sani for his observations on the unfortunate situation regarding the abduction.

He noted that the Senate had agreed that the police boss would appear before it and they would put heads together to discuss the series of kidnappings in the country.

Senator Saraki said, “I also think there will be an appropriate time to take up some of these issues that you have raised. I think that will probably be the best way forward on this.”

“Hopefully when he comes here, we will have a more holistic approach to finding a solution to this unfortunate and rampant incident of kidnapping, particularly on this Kaduna-Abuja Road,” he added.

The Senate President appealed to the security agencies to ensure that the UBEC Chairman and others kidnapped regain freedom.

China Probes Canadian On Suspicion Of ‘Harming’ National Security

A second Canadian citizen is reportedly being investigated by China on suspicion of endangering national security, adding to tensions after Canada’s arrest of a top Chinese telecom executive on a US request.

Michael Spavor, a China-based business consultant who facilitates trips to North Korea, was placed under investigation on Monday by state security in the northeast city of Dandong, the official Liaoning province news agency said on Thursday.

His disappearance emerged after former Canadian diplomat Michael Kovrig was detained by state security during a visit to Beijing — also on Monday and under similar suspicions.

Kovrig’s arrest was seen by experts as retaliation over Canada’s arrest of Meng Wanzhou, the chief financial officer of Chinese telecom giant Huawei, at Washington’s request on allegations related to breaking Iran sanctions

Spavor is suspected of “engaging in activities that harm China’s national security”, the Chinese news agency added.

Based in Liaoning province, which borders North Korea, he has met with North Korean leader Kim Jong Un and famously arranged some of retired NBA star Dennis Rodman’s visits there.

The Canadian government had earlier reported that Spavor was missing in China after being questioned.

The Beijing News daily has reported that Kovrig, who works for the International Crisis Group think tank, was under investigation on suspicion of “engaging in activities that endanger China’s national security,” — a phrase often used in espionage cases.

Huawei’s Meng was released on Can$10 million (US$7.5 million) bail by a court in Vancouver on Tuesday pending a US extradition hearing.

Her case has infuriated Beijing and shaken Canada’s relations with China, which is itself embroiled in a trade war with the United States.

Kim and Rodman

Spavor is based in northeast China, where he runs the Paektu Cultural Exchange programme, an organization that facilitates sport, cultural, tourism and business trips to North Korea.

He earned recognition after helping facilitate visits by former Chicago Bulls star Rodman in 2013 and 2014. Spavor has also appeared in North Korean state media photos showing him talking with Kim a few years ago.

AFP’s attempts to call his two cellphone numbers were met with messages saying “powered off” or “invalid” and calls to the Paektu Cultural Exchange office went unanswered.

“We have been unable to make contact since he let us know he was being questioned by Chinese authorities,” Canadian foreign ministry spokesman Guillaume Berube told AFP.

Foreign Minister Chrystia Freeland said the Canadian government had raised his case with Chinese authorities.

China’s foreign ministry did not immediately respond to inquiries.

Kovrig’s fate is also unknown, as Chinese authorities have yet to confirm why he is being held.

His employer, the Brussels-based International Crisis Group, said he was detained by the Beijing bureau of Chinese state security Monday night, but it has not received any information since then.

China’s foreign ministry spokesman Lu Kang said Wednesday that ICG was not registered in China and its employees would be “in violation” of the law if they engage in activities in the country.

Canadian officials said they were officially informed via fax early Wednesday of Kovrig’s detention.

“Canada is deeply concerned about the detention of Mr. Kovrig and Canada has raised the case directly with Chinese officials,” Freeland said.

Kovrig was based in Hong Kong for ICG, working on foreign policy and security issues in the region, particularly on the Korean Peninsula.

ICG closed its office in the Chinese capital after Beijing passed a law on NGOs, which came into force in 2017, to better control the activities on its soil of foreign organizations.

Friends and experts say Kovrig may have become a “hostage” and “pawn” in the three-nation feud.

“In this case, it is clear the Chinese government wants to put maximum pressure on the Canadian government,” Guy Saint-Jacques, the former Canadian ambassador to Beijing, told AFP.

Politicizing extradition? 

Freeland has also indirectly criticized statements by US President Donald Trump, who said in an interview on Tuesday he was ready to intervene in the Meng affair if it helped seal a trade deal with China.

“Our extradition partners should not seek to politicize the extradition process or use it for ends other than the pursuit of justice and following the rule of law,” the Canadian minister said.

Asked by Reuters if he would intervene with the Justice Department in her case, Trump had been quoted as saying: “Whatever’s good for this country, I would do.”

Freeland said it would be “up to Ms. Meng’s lawyers whether they choose to raise comments in the US as part of their defense of Ms. Meng.”

It “will be up to the Canadian judicial process, to Canadian judges, how to weigh the significance of what Ms. Meng’s lawyers say.”


Buhari Orders Clampdown On Illegal Security Outfits

President Muhammadu Buhari


President Muhammadu Buhari has ordered the immediate clampdown on all illegal security outfits in the country.

National Security Adviser, Babagana Monguno, revealed this on Tuesday while addressing a news conference in reaction of the recent crisis in Kaduna, Adamawa, Plateau and Benue states.

General Monguno added that all unlicenced and illicit acquisition of controlled items, including drones and broadcast equipment are to be reported to the appropriate security agencies.

With security challenges still popping up across the country, the National Security Adviser said the nation’s internal security situation is being reviewed.

Hong Kong bans pro-independence party over ‘national security’ fears


Hong Kong on Monday banned a political party which promotes independence, calling it a threat to national security, as Beijing clamps down on challenges to its sovereignty.

It was the first ban on a political party since the city was handed back to China by Britain 21 years ago. The foreign ministry in London expressed concern at the move.

Semi-autonomous Hong Kong enjoys freedoms unseen on the mainland, including freedom of expression. But the space for dissent is shrinking in the face of an increasingly assertive China under President Xi Jinping.

Hong Kong’s security minister John Lee said he had upheld a police request to ban the Hong Kong National Party “in the interest of national security, public safety, public order, and the protection of rights and freedom of others”.

HKNP is a well-known but tiny group with a core membership of only around a dozen.

Lee told reporters the party “has a very clear agenda to achieve its goal of Hong Kong being made an independent republic”, saying that contravened the city’s mini-constitution, the Basic Law.

Lee said the party had tried to infiltrate schools and had spread “hatred and discrimination” against mainland Chinese people in Hong Kong.

HKNP had also said it would not stop at force, Lee added, but he conceded it had never committed violence and that its leader Andy Chan had advocated non-violence.

Chan had no immediate comment on the decision.

Britain’s Foreign Office (ministry)said in a statement it was “concerned” at the move, noting it was the first such ban since the handover.

“The UK does not support Hong Kong independence, but Hong Kong’s high degree of autonomy and its rights and freedoms are central to its way of life, and it is important they are fully respected,” it added.

Human Rights Watch called the ban “a milestone in the Beijing and Hong Kong governments’ assault on Hong Kong’s freedoms”.

Lee’s justification that the move was pre-emptive, even though the group had not committed violent acts, set a “dangerous precedent” that could see more pro-democracy groups banned, said HRW’s senior China researcher Maya Wang.

Crackdown on dissent

Police requested the party ban in July under the Societies Ordinance, which stipulates groups can be prohibited in the interests of national security and public safety.

The bid was slammed by rights groups.

Activists calling for Hong Kong’s independence from China emerged after mass pro-democracy rallies in 2014 failed to win reforms.

But pro-independence campaigners including Chan have since been blocked from standing for office, and others disqualified from the legislature.

Leading independence activist Edward Leung was jailed for six years in June on rioting charges after clashes with police in 2016.

HKNP has lost momentum over the past two years as the government seeks to muzzle pro-independence sentiment.

However, the party was back in the headlines after police sought the ban. Chan later gave a high-profile talk at the city’s press club which Chinese authorities demanded should be canceled.

Chan described Beijing as Hong Kong’s “colonial master” in his speech to a packed audience at the Foreign Correspondents’ Club in August.

China’s ministry of foreign affairs had asked the FCC to cancel the talk but it refused, arguing that different views should be heard in any debate.

The Hong Kong government said that while it supported freedom of speech and the press, allowing Chan to speak contravened the city’s mini-constitution.



Trump Warns Of Immigration’s Threat To National Security

US President Donald Trump speaks during a meeting on prison reform in the Roosevelt Room of the White House in Washington, DC, January 11, 2018.

President Donald Trump said Tuesday that America’s current immigration system weakens national security, as his administration sought Supreme Court backing to lift protections shielding 700,000 “Dreamer” immigrants from deportation.

Days after Trump sparked an international uproar by reportedly complaining about immigration from “shithole” countries, his administration sought to refocus the debate by tying a series of current immigration programs to terror threats.

A new report from the Justice and Homeland Security Departments said that nearly three-fourths of the 549 international terror-related convictions in US courts since the September 11 attacks in 2001 involved foreign-born individuals, including 148 granted citizenship after arriving in the United States.

It also said it had blocked many hundreds more potential terrorists who tried to enter the country both legally and illegally.

Trump tweeted out a link to the report Tuesday evening, in support of White House efforts to end programs like the green card lottery and family-based migration.

“We have submitted to Congress a list of resources and reforms. We need to keep America safe, including moving away from a random chain migration and lottery system, to one that is merit-based,” he said.

Attorney General Jeff Sessions unveiled the report five days after Trump rejected a bipartisan deal that aimed to reform some immigration programs, partly fund a Mexican border wall, and guarantee the status of the “Dreamers” — immigrants brought to the United States illegally as children.

Sessions described the data as “only the tip of the iceberg.”

“We currently have terrorism-related investigations against thousands of people in the United States, including hundreds of people who came here as refugees.”

“This report reveals an indisputable sobering reality — our immigration system has undermined our national security and public safety,” he said.

– Battle over ‘Dreamers’-

Trump lashed out last week at the US judicial system as “broken and unfair” after a judge blocked his decision to scrap the program that has protected the so-called Dreamers from deportation since 2012, known as Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA).

His Justice Department courted further controversy Tuesday when it announced it would appeal directly to the Supreme Court the San Francisco judge’s challenge to Trump’s order to end DACA.

The department said it was avoiding appealing to the northern California appeals court to expedite the case. But critics said the move aimed to get the case before a likely more sympathetic group of judges.

“Today’s announcement is just the latest in a disturbing pattern of hostile actions directed at young immigrants across America,” said Lorella Praeli, director of immigration policy at the American Civil Liberties Union.

It was during increasingly fraught negotiations on a bipartisan immigration deal that Trump, according to one official present, complained about immigrants from “shithole” countries and suggested he preferred Norwegians.

Senior Republican Senator Lindsey Graham blamed Trump’s staff Tuesday as “irrational” for killing off the tentative compromise reached by Democratic and Republican lawmakers.

“I don’t think the president was well served by staff…. We cannot do this with people in charge at the White House who have an irrational view of how to fix immigration,” Graham said.

“This has turned into an ‘s-show’ and we need to get back to being a great country where Democrats and Republicans work together to do something that we should have done years ago,” he added, referring to immigration reform.

But Graham said he would continue to press for a deal that protects DACA recipients, partly funds the border wall, and moves policy toward more merit-based immigration.

“It’s not going to end poorly. It’s going to end well,” he promised DACA recipients.

– Want ‘people who assimilate’ –

In a briefing for journalists, a senior administration official said Tuesday that they want an immigration system that brings to the country people who will contribute knowledge and skills and better “assimilate” into US society.

“A properly functioning immigration system promotes assimilation in all its forms,” the official said.

“It doesn’t promote the admission of individuals who are not likely to succeed, who are not likely to assimilate, who could potentially radicalize or may already be radicalized to pose a threat to our national security.”

White House officials say they want a system more like Canada’s or Australia’s, where hopeful immigrants are evaluated on what kinds of skills or knowledge they can bring to the country.

But critics said the government’s approach, and the new immigration report, appeared to be aimed primarily at keeping out Muslims.

“This agenda-driven report is clearly designed to support the Trump administration’s anti-immigrant and Islamophobic policies,” the Council on American-Islamic Relations said.

“It ignores violence committed by white supremacists and other non-immigrants, and instead seeks to tar all immigrants with the brush of terrorism.”


Sallah: Police Deploy Officers Nationwide

There’s been a massive deployment of police personnel across Nigeria ahead of the Eid El Fitr celebrations.

A statement from the force headquarters in Abuja disclosed that zonal and state police chiefs are to ensure their operations cover recreation centres, public utilities, and other critical infrastructure.

Patrol teams will also be deployed on major roads and highways nationwide as officers have been given strict instructions to be civil, polite and firm in carrying out their duties.

Read Also: DSS Foils Plot To Bomb Kano, Others During Sallah

This is coming after the Department of State Service (DSS) uncovered a plot by suspected terrorists to bomb Kano and some Northern states during the Sallah celebration.

The DSS made the announcement on Friday after arresting an explosive expert and the mastermind behind the planned attack, one Bashir Mohammed.

According to the service, the suspect had planned to bomb soft targets such as markets, public parks, public processions, recreation and worship centres during the forthcoming Sallah celebration.

Police Advocate National Unity And Patriotism

Police Advocate National Unity And Patriotism The Inspector General of Police Ibrahim Idris, has appealed to religious and political leaders in Nigeria to be patriotic and exhibit acts capable of unifying the country and her people.

Addressing senior officers of the police force in Abuja, Mr Idris decried the actions of some leaders in southern Kaduna, which led to the escalation of the recent crisis that engulfed the area‎.

The Police boss, who however commended officers and men of the force for their role in restoring law and order in southern Kaduna said:

“Some of us are yet to imbibe the principles of leaderships. Whether you are a religious leader, whether you are a community leader, you should have some principles. And as leaders, what is lacking is love of Nigeria.

“I think we have to love Nigeria more in 2017.It is very important,” he stressed.

He further stated that: People just forget that this country belongs to all of us. Both the poor and the rich. You are where you are because God made you to be there.

“It is not because you have any special qualities. And I think it is very important.

“People should take leadership as a responsibility. All of us should be held responsible for this country,” the commissioner stressed.

Ayade Lauds Nupe Kingdom For Maintaining Unique Culture

Ayade Lauds Nupe Kingdom For Maintaining Unique CultureThe Cross River State Governor, Ben Ayade, has lauded the Etsu of Nupe, Brigadier General Yahaya Abubakar (rtd), and the entire Kingdom for maintaining their unique and distinct culture over the centuries.

The governor was speaking when he and his Edo state counterpart accompanied the Inspector General of Police, Ibrahim Idris Kpotum, to accept a chieftaincy title bestowed on the top cop by the monarch in his palace in Suleja, Niger State.

While commending the monarch for recognizing and rewarding the good and meritorous work that the IG is doing in the face of daunting national security challenges, the governor said:

“The Etsu of Nupe and the people of his kingdom stand out as a people who cherish and adore their culture and tradition and have managed to sustain the legacy to an appreciable period of time.

“I want to use this opportunity to invite the people of the kingdom and the other guests who came to solidarize with the IG to endeavor to attend the Calabar carnival and savor the legendary warmth and hospitality of Cross River State”. Ayade said.

“My administration has put everything in place to ensure that all visitors to the state during the carnival period not only enjoy their holidays in a peaceful ambiance but will also leave with memories that would linger for a lifetime,” he added.

He was accompanied to the event by the Chairman of the New Cities Development Board, Mr KJ Agba.

Fishermen Urge FG To Beef Up Security In Calabar

fishermen, FG, CalabarFishermen and traders at the Henshaw beach in Calabar South Local Government Area of Cross River state, are calling on both the state and federal government to strengthen security along the high sea.

This according to them, is in order to prevent them from the daily harassment encountered on the sea by Cameroonian jam-darns.

The request is coming on the heels of series of harassment they have faced, which has in turn hindered them from their fishing activities.

As a result, fish and crayfish have become scarce commodities in recent times in Calabar, the Cross River state capital.

The Henshaw beach town is the major market known for the sale of crayfish, fresh fish, shrimps, snails and other sea-foods.

The market which is usually a beehive of activity as traders travel from within and outside the state to come buy the commodities, has dropped in the patronage level.

The fishermen and traders who have to get around Bakassi area of the high sea put the blame on the insecurity on the waters.

Speaking to Channels Television, they claimed they are usually detained and asked to pay a ransom before they are freed.

They added that in most cases, the money they travel with to purchase goods to bring back for sale, as well as their fishing boats are usually taken away from them.

One of the traders in tears, described her experience as an unfortunate one, while several other victims joined their voices in seeking help from the government.

The Flag Officer Commanding, Eastern Naval Command, Rear Admiral James Oluwole, said the Navy was not aware of the claims, but promised to look into the matter and extend its security moves to the flash points.

Furthermore, he called on the community to avail security agencies with useful information that would help them in their intelligence gathering, while promising not to disclose the caller’s identity.

The government has also promised that it would continue to partner the Navy and Marine Police with necessary logistics in order to step up their security measures.

State Security Adviser, Jude Ngaji also assured them of the government’s prompt response to tackling the security challenge.

The fishermen and traders on the other hand are hopeful that the promised prompt intervention, would help them return to their businesses as soon as possible.

Twin Explosion Leaves At Least Five Dead In Maiduguri

maiduguri blastsAt least nine people have died and 24 others injured after two loud explosions rocked Maiduguri around 7:10am on Saturday.

A blast occurred at the Bakassi camp for Internally Displaced Persons while the second went off at the NNPC station along Damboa road in Borno State, northeast Nigeria.

Unconfirmed sources say two female suicide bombers detonated the explosives in a gathering of women who were going to the farm.

The injured have been evacuated to hospitals for treatment.

Explosion At Muna Garage

The blasts came barely three weeks after an explosion killed eight with 15 persons injured in Muna garage, Borno State capital, where a suicide bomber was said to have joined a cab before detonating the IED, killing herself and other occupants.

The Police said the ill-fated cab was about joining the convoy of hundreds of vehicles to be escorted by security operatives to the border town of Gamboru Ngala when the explosion occurred.

A witness, Adamu Garbam, said the vehicle had already made moves to join the convoy when the explosion occurred.

The number of casualties was confirmed by the spokesman, National Emergency Management Agency (NEMA), Sani Datti.

No group has claimed responsibility for the Saturday morning twin explosion yet.



House Committee Promises More Support For Air Force

Insurance FraudThe House of Reps Committee on Air Force has promised total support for the success of the Nigerian Air Force.

The Chairman House of Representatives committee on Air Force, Hon. Samson Okwu, gave the assurance at the 330 Nigerian Air Force station, Jos during the committee’s oversight visit to development projects.

The five-member committee has been going round the nation for its maiden oversight visits to Nigerian Air Force stations, units and establishments with a view to inspect development projects, identify challenges as well as consider required equipment and logistics for the annual budget.

Briefing members of the committee on the activities and constraints facing the station, the Commander in charge, Tepkwan Ali, expressed concern about the accumulated power bills owed electricity distribution companies and inadequate accommodation for officers, which requires urgent attention.

The Commander noted that funding for the Nigerian Air Force remains a big challenge and this, the committee also identified with a promise to appropriate more funding for a viable Air Force.

The lawmakers restated their commitment to having a proactive, well equipped and dependable Air Force that will give the nation the desired security especially as the war against insurgency is on the increase.